Iowans with family members who are addicted to heroin or narcotic painkillers now have an easy way to acquire a potentially life-saving antidote, after action by the medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health.
Patricia Quinlisk has issued a standing order so that any family member who demonstrates a need can go to a local pharmacy and purchase naloxone which can reverse the effects of an overdose.
In an overdose situation, naloxone reverses the drug-induced slowing of the respiratory system.
At his weekly news conference, Governor Branstad said some addicts are going from painkillers to heroin with deadly results.
“Treatment and recovery options are available when heroin or illicit fentanyl are consumed,” Branstad said. “Their potency results in death quicker than anyone can expect with a drug addiction.”
Fentanyl is a painkiller, and a version of the drug sold on the streets is especially potent.
The legislature this year agreed to make naloxone available to first responders as well as family and friends of addicts. The medical director’s action will make that easier.
“A standing order means that anyone who demonstrates a need for naloxone can get it without having to go to their primary doctor or other prescribing health care professional,” Branstad said.
The naloxone initiative is part of a package of state programs addressing the opioid epidemic.
"Recognizing and responding to an opioid overdose can mean the difference between life and death," said Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Officials say emergency room visits in Iowa related to opioid overdose have increased more than 200% over the last 10 years. Drug overdose deaths in Iowa more than tripled during that time.